NBC and Billy Bush are nearing a deal for the embattled Today co-host to resolve his differences with the network, Bush's lawyer tells The Hollywood Reporter. It is expected that Bush will leave the network as part of the multimillion-dollar settlement, with an announcement coming as early as the end of the day Friday.
Marshall Grossman, the Los Angeles litigator hired this week by Bush to negotiate his departure in the wake of the publication of audio and video of Donald Trump engaging in a misogynistic and predatory conversation with the former Access Hollywood host, says he and NBC representatives are close to a deal. The two sides have been holed up in a Los Angeles conference room, with NBC represented in the talks by its head of litigation and senior corporate executives.
"The parties are negotiating a resolution of their differences at their highest level, and I am personally optimistic that the matter will be resolved upon terms satisfactory to both parties," says Grossman. He declined to elaborate on the terms of a possible settlement or the timing of a deal, only saying that both sides will negotiate until the final pact can be hammered out. Bush is said to make about $3 million a year under his Today deal.
Late Friday, the New York Post reported Bush is "likely" to receive a $10 million settlement, but Grossman says that report is . "There's no $10 million settlement and that number has not even been discussed," Grossman tells THR.
Bush, 45, was suspended from Today following the uproar over the Trump tape, during which Bush can be heard egging on the now-Republican presidential contender and seen asking an NBC soap star to give Trump a hug. NBC initially indicated Bush might apologize and remain with the venerable morning show, but public pressure and opposition from many people at the network led to his suspension.
Negotiations with Bush were said to have been amicable, but they hit a snag because his team felt NBC News was pinning blame for the Trump incident on Bush, who, at the time of the 2005 Access segment, was an NBCUniversal employee interviewing an NBC star (The Apprentice's Trump) to promote Trump's appearance on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives. The impasse led Grossman to go public yesterday with a statement to THR: "If Billy had been passive or responded 'Shut the f - up' to Trump, Billy would have been out of a job the next day."
After that statement was widely disseminated throughout NBCUniversal, negotiations seem to have accelerated.
Full disclosure: Early in his career, the author worked as a lawyer at a law firm run by Grossman.
Oct. 14, 7:17 pm: Story has been updated to include Grossman's denial of the $10 million report.